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"The reading of books, and the daily occurrences of life, are continually furnishing us with
SPECTATOR, No. 379.
PRINTED AT THE CAXTON PRESS, BY HENRY FISHER,
Printer in Ordinary to His Majesty;
Published at 38, Newgate Street; and Sold by all Booksellers.
Ir is not easy to write a Preface to each volume, in a series that may be carried to an indefinite length. The first presents a fruitful harvest of materials, the second requires but little gleaning, but those which follow expose the writer to the danger of incorporating ideas that have already been anticipated, and the difficulty increases as their number augments. Happily, however, with respect to this work, the necessity of a Preface becomes less urgent than formerly, so that the occasion ceases to be imperative, as the means of meeting it are exhausted.
The character of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE is already established upon permanent principles, which may easily be gathered from a perusal of its columns. They have been defined in the prefaces to preceding volumes, accompanied with assurances that no degeneracy shall take place; and as our promise has thus far been preserved inviolate, it will only be necessary for us to repeat our former declarations.
The productions of many able writers have given originality, dignity, and embellishment to our pages. To these we gratefully acknowledge our obligations, and present our solicitation for future favours. There are, however, many to whom the Editor finds himself bound to make some kind of an apology, and he begs to communicate to them his thoughts in the language of Dr. Johnson :
"I am afraid that I may be taxed with insensibility by many of my correspondents, who believe their contributions unjustly neglected. And, indeed, when I sit before a pile of papers, of which each is the production of laborious study, and the offspring of a fond parent, I, who know the passions of an author, cannot remember how long they have lain in my boxes unregarded, without imagining to myself the various changes of sorrow and resentment, which the writers must have felt in this tedious interval.
"These reflections are still more awakened, when, upon perusal, I find some of them calling for a place in the next paper, a place which they have never yet obtained; others writing in a style of superiority and haughtiness, as secure of deference, and above fear of criticism; others humbly offering their weak assistance with softness and submission, which
they believe impossible to be resisted; some introducing their compositions with a menace of the contempt which he that refuses them will incur; others applying privately to the booksellers for their interest and solicitation; every one endeavouring, by different ways, to secure the bliss of publication. I cannot but consider myself placed in a very incommodious situation, where I am forced to repress confidence, which it is pleasing to indulge, to repay civilities with appearances of neglect, and so frequently to offend those by whom I never was offended.
"I know well how rarely an author, fired with the beauties of his new composition, contains his raptures in his own bosom, and how naturally he imparts to his friends his expectations of renown; and as I can easily conceive the eagerness with which a new paper is snatched up, by one who expects to find it filled with his own production, and perhaps has called his companions to share the pleasure of a second perusal, I grieve for the disappointment which he is to feel at the fatal inspection. His hopes, however, do not forsake him; he is certain of giving lustre the next day. The next day comes, and again he pants with expectation; and having dreamed of laurels and Parnassus, casts his eyes upon the barren page with which he is doomed never more to be delighted.
"For such cruelty, what atonement can be made? For such calamities, what alleviation can be found? I am afraid that the mischief already done must be without reparation, and all that deserves my care is, prevention for the future. Let, therefore, the next friendly contributor, whoever he be, observe the cautions of Swift, and write secretly in his own chamber, without communicating his design to his nearest friend, for the nearest friend will be pleased with an opportunity of laughing. Let him carry it to the post himself, and wait in silence for the event. If it is published and praised, he may then declare himself the author; if it be suppressed, he may wonder in private, without much vexation; and if it be censured, he may join in the cry, and lament the dulness of the writing generation.' RAMBLER, No. 56.
The Proprietor of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE again begs leave to assure his numerous, respectable, and increasing subscribers, that nothing shall be wanting, on his part, to ensure a continuance of their favours, and to deserve that public patronage which it has so liberally enjoyed.